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- East Notes: Ibanez, Phillies, Mathis
- Blue Jays To Exercise J.A. Happ’s Option
- Central Notes: Maddon, Dirks, Giambi, Indians
- Alex Rios Hires Scott Boras
- Dodgers Decline Option On Chad Billingsley
- West Notes: Sandoval, Lewis, Ethier, Angels
- AL East Links: Chavez, Yankees, Breslow, Jays
- Angels Likely To Trade Kendrick Or Freese
- Rockies Exercise LaTroy Hawkins’ Option
- Mets Outright Satin, Rice, Eveland, Carlyle
- Cubs Hire Joe Maddon As Manager
- Yankees To Extend Qualifying Offer To David Robertson
- Rangers Decline Rios’ Option; Outright Adcock, Lucas, Figaro
- Brewers Exercise Mutual Option On Aramis Ramirez
- Rays Exercise Ben Zobrist’s Option
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Wandy Rodriguez Rumors
Roy Halladay is pitching differently this year, according to pitch f/x data and team officials who spoke to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Though Halladay remains effective, he’s relying on different weapons than the ones he used in the past. Here are Rosenthal’s latest rumors:
- The Royals have lost ten consecutive games, but GM Dayton Moore says it’s not always bad to scuffle. “I’m not shocked that we’re struggling out of the gate,” Moore told Rosenthal. “Although you expect good things to happen, we’re very young.” Rosenthal cites a scout who was “decidedly unimpressed” by the Royals’ play this weekend.
- Rosenthal suggests the Padres might be inclined to trade Carlos Quentin if he hits well once he returns from knee surgery in May. Rosenthal wonders if the Padres might look to sign Quentin to a two-year deal in the $18-20MM range if he has a decent season.
- Many teams are intimidated by Wandy Rodriguez’s contract, Rosenthal reports. The left-hander earns $10MM in 2012 and $13MM in 2013. The Astros hold a $13MM club option for 2014, but it becomes a player option if they trade him.
- Some executives were surprised the Reds committed $72.5MM to Brandon Phillips when some of their best prospects (Billy Hamilton and Didi Gregorius) are middle infielders.
- Adam Dunn looks more comfortable at the plate this year, one scout says.
Links in Spanish about three jugadores who don't know where they'll be a year from now…
- Javier Vazquez received calls from two general managers this offseason, and his agent received calls from others, the pitcher told Esteban Pagán Rivera at the Puerto Rican paper Primera Hora. Vazquez says he was frank with his suitors, saying, "I haven't felt the slightest itch to play. But I haven't announced my retirement because who knows if, three months or a year from now, I get the urge to play again."
- Wandy Rodriguez is approaching this offseason's trade rumors as if he were a soldier and the Astros were his army, the 33-year-old lefty told Juan Mercado from the Dominican daily El Día. "Wherever they send me, that's where I'll go, since I don't have any city in particular (in mind)," Rodriguez said. The Astros originally signed Rodriguez as an international free agent in 1999, and he says he appreciates the team that "opened the doors" for him to make it to the majors. "Now, if they decide to trade me, the only thing to do is accept it and leave."
- Slugging Yankee prospect Jorge Vazquez is growing impatient with the minor leagues and would like to try Japan or Korea if there's not a place for him in the major leagues, according to the president of the Mexican League's Tigres de Quintana Roo, where Vazquez played in 2007 and 2008. "If they don't give him an opportunity this year, he wants them to trade him, or to go to [play] baseball in the east," Cuauhtémoc "Chito" Rodríguez told Fernando Ballesteros at Puro Béisbol. "He doesn't want to continue on in Triple A anymore, not just with the Yankees, but with any other organization as well." Vazquez made a case for being MLB-ready in 2011, putting up a .262/.314/.516 line with 32 homers at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
All three of the National League's unsigned arbitration eligible players play in the NL Central, as MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows. Here are the latest links from the division…
- Brewers GM Doug Melvin joined Todd Hollandsworth and Jim Memolo on MLB Network Radio and said that he and Zack Greinke have had some conversations about the right-hander's future in Milwaukee. Greinke told Melvin that he likes pitching for the Brewers and wants them to remain competitive going forward. Greinke is one of the top starting pitchers scheduled to hit free agency after the 2012 season.
- The Cardinals are waiting to see if Roy Oswalt will sign on their terms and at their price, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney writes.
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said Wandy Rodriguez is "definitely an important part" of the team's plan at this point, Stephen Goff of the Houston Astros Examiner reports. Rodriguez has been involved his share of trade rumors in the past year, but Luhnow says the left-hander is an important part of Houston's roster.
- Jose Veras of the Brewers and Casey McGehee and Garrett Jones of the Pirates are the NL's remaining unsigned arbitration eligible players.
- It appears likely that Giants starter Tim Lincecum will sign a two-year deal in the $41-42MM range, Rosenthal writes. The Giants and their ace right-hander exchanged arbitration submissions last week and the club has since offered Lincecum a deal worth $100MM-plus.
- It’s possible that Edwin Jackson will sign a one-year contract, like fellow Scott Boras client Ryan Madson. The Red Sox and Mariners could be interested in Jackson if he’s willing to sign for one year.
- The Red Sox aren’t pursuing Wandy Rodriguez, according to Rosenthal.
- The Orioles could be a logical trade partner for Yankees right-hander A.J. Burnett in Rosenthal’s estimation.
- The Red Sox seem to have interest in acquiring an everyday shortstop and the Reds, Giants and Rays are looking for veteran shortstop help, Rosenthal writes.
- Free agent infielder Ryan Theriot would prefer to stay in the National League, unless he can obtain a starting job.
- Earlier in the offseason the Astros inquired about Ian Desmond, who hasn’t convinced everyone with the Nationals that he’s their long-term solution at shortstop.
- Some teams would play Gordon Beckham at short, according to Rosenthal. Beckham has only played second and third in three seasons at the MLB level.
- The Angels aren’t ready to trade Bobby Abreu, who could be a fit for Detroit’s DH opening.
Carlos Lee's name has been the one most frequently mentioned in Astros trade rumors recently, but Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports cautions not to forget about Wandy Rodriguez. Morosi adds that the Red Sox have been keeping tabs on the Houston lefty (Twitter links).
Boston would prefer to sign a free agent, according to Morosi, and have been linked to Roy Oswalt. The Red Sox traded Marco Scutaro to the Rockies yesterday, which freed up $6MM in payroll. That type of money is almost enough to accommodate Oswalt's one-year asking price, but not to accommodate Rodriguez's $10MM salary. He's also guaranteed a $13MM salary in 2013.
Rodriguez, 33, has a 3.36 ERA over the last three seasons in 591 2/3 innings with an 8.2 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, and a 46% groundball rate. His K/9 has declined for three straight seasons however, while his BB/9 has increased each of those years. There's also the issue of Rodriguez's 2014 option; the Astros currently hold a $13MM club option on Rodriguez, but that becomes a player option if he's traded.
The new collective bargaining agreement has created millions of dollars in incentives for teams to be below the luxury tax when it reaches $189MM in 2014, according to ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark. The upcoming changes have contributed to the relatively restrained spending on the part of the Yankees and Red Sox this offseason, Stark writes. Here are the rest of his rumors…
- The Yankees won’t be under the luxury tax threshold in 2012 or 2013, but they hope to spend less than $189MM in 2014, Stark writes. However, the CBA isn’t the only reason the Yankees are spending more cautiously. "I think this is what the Yankees were going to do, regardless," one of Stark’s sources said.
- Hiroki Kuroda is sending signals to the Yankees and Red Sox that he’d like to sign with one of those teams, Stark reports. The Red Sox are “nowhere near close” on Kuroda while the Yankees are mostly “kicking tires,” Stark hears. Stark's colleague Buster Olney reported today that Kuroda's asking price has dropped to the $10-11MM range.
- Though rival teams were surprised to see the Reds agree to terms with Ryan Madson, the move will help the team stockpile draft picks. They’ll obtain a compensatory pick when Francisco Cordero signs elsewhere and could obtain two more picks if they tender Madson a contract next offseason and he leaves as a free agent.
- The Reds are going to attempt to turn Aroldis Chapman into a starter this Spring Training, though there’s some skepticism he’ll thrive in the rotation.
- Chad Qualls’ name is on the Phillies’ shopping list, Stark reports.
- Rival teams predict the Cubs won’t trade Matt Garza until July, when there are fewer alternatives available in free agency.
- Stark hears that the Astros would pay half of the $18.5MM remaining on Carlos Lee’s contract and at least $7MM of the $11MM that Brett Myers will earn in 2012. Wandy Rodriguez is also available, though the Astros don’t appear to be nearing a deal involving the left-hander.
The Astros inked southpaw Trever Miller on this date in 2006, bringing him back for a second stint with the team. Here's the latest from Houston…
- The Astros have heard from a few teams with interest in Carlos Lee, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Nothing is close however, and Morosi speculates that the Indians could be a fit.
- Interest in Wandy Rodriguez "seems almost nonexistent," reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). Last month we heard that the Astros seemed willing to absorb some of the $25.5MM left on the left-hander's contract to facilitate a trade.
- MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports that the Astros have signed 16-year-old right-hander Carlos Vasquez and 17-year-old outfielder Edward Santana. An agreement with 17-year-old righty Tomas Lopez is not yet official. All three players are from the Dominican Republic and will report to the team's academy there.
- Keith Law announced (on Twitter) that he will remain with ESPN after interviewing for some front office positions with the Astros last month.
- The Astros have received permission to interview Cardinals regional cross-checker Mike Elias for a special assistant role in scouting, reports Law (on Twitter).
We wouldn’t want the biggest news of the day — that the Rangers won the bidding for Yu Darvish — to completely overshadow some secondary notes from around MLB. Here are some quick hits from around the league, starting in Texas:
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow told fans at MLB.com that Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers and Carlos Lee are “very good players” who could help the Astros going forward. “We will look for any opportunity to improve our team in the medium and long term,” Luhnow explained, “so if there were a trade that made sense, we would consider it.”
- Brian Bixler cleared waivers and accepted his assignment to Oklahoma City, according to MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch. The Astros designated the infielder for assignment last week to create roster space for Jed Lowrie and Kyle Weiland.
- The Cubs and Red Sox have agreed that former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein won't be able to hire anyone from the Red Sox for three years, according to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com (on Twitter).
- Angels GM Jerry Dipoto likes the depth in his team's starting rotation, but doesn't yet know whether his bullpen is a strength or a weakness, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times. Ideally, the Angels would like to add a late-inning reliever and make the lineup a little more left-handed, Dipoto says.
- There's a consensus among international MLB people that the Yankees are "BIG" on Yoenis Cespedes, according to Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus (on Twitter).
- Cespedes is close to establishing residency in the Dominican Republic, reports Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes. The Cuban outfielder still needs to secure a license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control since his residency is not permanent. The process could take two weeks, but he should be cleared to sign sometime in January.
In his latest column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo writes that the Red Sox have to be wary of an American League where the competition continues to get stiffer. With the Albert Pujols-led Angels and the improving Blue Jays aiming to contend for the postseason, the Red Sox may need to continue making moves to avoid missing the playoffs for a third straight year, says Cafardo. Here are some highlights from his piece:
- Other GMs say Ben Cherington has been active in discussing potential moves. The Red Sox have looked into a number of pitchers on the trade market, including Gio Gonzalez, Jair Jurrjens, Gavin Floyd, and John Danks. According to Cafardo, the Sox probably don't have the caliber of prospects the Athletics want for Gonzalez.
- An AL executive on how the Rays might fill their roster holes: "They could just continue to bottom-feed and keep all of their pitching. There's that January market that they've done very well with, and as long as they keep making the right decisions, their pitching is so good it will keep them in that playoff hunt every year."
- Cafardo is skeptical that the Cubs are legit contenders for Prince Fielder, saying right now the team's mindset is "let’s not spend until we’re ready to spend and right now we're not ready to spend." It makes sense then that Cafardo also hears Chicago's bid for Yu Darvish was low, as detailed in MLBTR's Darvish rumors.
- The Astros seem willing to take on some salary in a Wandy Rodriguez trade. We heard during the Winter Meetings that Houston didn't want to eat any of Wandy's contract to move him, so perhaps the club modified that stance after Jeff Luhnow took over as GM.
- One NL scout who watched Joel Zumaya pitch this week said the righty "didn't have much of a breaking ball but threw 93-96 on his fastball. Somebody will bite on him."
Today Jeff Luhnow made his first significant player move since becoming the Astros’ GM last week. Jed Lowrie and Kyle Weiland are now Astros and Mark Melancon is now on the Red Sox. Here are some more notes from Houston, starting with today’s trade…
- The Red Sox and Astros also discussed some of Houston's high-salaried players, but "there wasn't a lot of appetite for that," Astros GM Jeff Luhnow told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The sides presumably discussed Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers and Carlos Lee before agreeing on today's deal.
- The market for Rodriguez has been surprisingly cool, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. If he's traded, Rodriguez will be set to earn $36MM over the course of the next three seasons (a 2014 option becomes guaranteed if he's dealt).
- Astros infielder Angel Sanchez has switched representation and is now with Burton Rocks LTD, tweets MLBTR's Tim Dierkes.